Miller on Davis, UK Defense

Darius Miller says having Anthony Davis' shot-blocking ability in the middle of the Kentucky defense makes it easier to play defense. "It kind of allows us to play more aggressive. We know he is back there and is a great shot blocker," said Miller.

Darius Miller says having Anthony Davis' shot-blocking ability in the middle of the Kentucky defense makes it easier to play defense.

"It kind of allows us to play more aggressive. We know he is back there and is a great shot blocker," said Miller. "Even if he doesn't block the shot, 90 percent of the time he is altering the shot. That makes our job a lot easier. We can play more aggressive and we trust each other a lot more because he is back there helping. "It just makes everything easier. He is a big part of this defense. It is intimidating going up against him. He is doing the same thing to us (in practice) blocking our shots and altering our shots, so we know how intimidating it is. Anthony does a great job making our job easier. He is always where he needs to be and we know we can count on him."

Going into Saturday's game at Indiana, Davis already has 36 blocked shots. That's the sixth best single season mark by any freshman in UK?basketball history — and he's only played eight game. The all-time record for a Kentucky freshman is 79 by Jamaal Magloire during the 1996-97 season when he played 40 games. Sam Bowie had 73 in 34 games in 1979-80. Terrence Jones had 72 last season in 38 games. Two years ago DeMarcus Cousins had 67 and Daniel Orton 51 in 38 games.

Overall, Melvin Turpin and Andre Riddick share the individual single season record of 83 — Turpin in 31 games, Riddick in 34 games — that Davis should also eclipse.

Kentucky coach John Calipari jokes he will "take all the credit" for the shots Davis blocks. "But the reality of it is, that's him. He's a great shot-blocker."

Perhaps even more impressive is that Davis is blocking that many shots while committing an average of one foul each 12.5 minutes he plays. He's also averaging a team-high 9.1 rebounds per game.

"When he leaves his feet, he fouls. The great shot-blockers wait until you release it and then they go after the ball," Calipari said. "So a ball fake doesn't bother them because they are not leaving anyway. So you can ball fake six times. Until you start to release the ball, when it's out of your hand, a shot-blocker will go after it. That's what he does.

And the other thing a shot blocker does is he's blocking not his man's shot, he's blocking somebody else's shot. And that's why I'm telling my players, don't foul. We are a pretty good defensive team when we don't foul and Anthony is a big part of that."

Davis knows blocked shots can intimidate opponents and force them to alter what they do offensively.

"After I block a shot, sometimes someone quits testing me. Even if they make a shot and I want to be right there to get the rebound and get the big man tired," Davis said. Davis also likes to not only block a shot, but also control the ball as he did on his game-winning play against North Carolina's John Henson last week.

"Blocking balls out of bounds is giving them another chance. So you block it in to one of your teammates or tip it a little bit to yourself, then we have possession of the ball," Davis said. "That's how I try to do it to keep it in our hands. When I come from the weak side, I try to block it out of bounds. It excites the crowd and gets us pumped up as well."


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